Section: Arts

Despite missteps, WandaVision innovates and impresses

When “Avengers: Endgame” premiered almost two years ago, the whole world let out a collective sigh of relief. Marvel’s 11-year journey came to an epic and satisfying conclusion, but it left a hole in popular culture; WandaVision is here to fill it. The Marvel Cinematic Universe’s (MCU) first outing since 2019, and the first to premier on the Disney+ streaming service, is one of the most unique pieces of television to come out in a long time. 

Creator Jac Schaeffer took on the unenviable task of following up the story of the most profitable film in history. While WandaVision could have been more tightly written, it expanded on the universe better than I could have hoped for. The plot feels like a natural progression from its predecessors and the unique premise of a continually changing setting gave Schaeffer a lot of freedom. This is probably the most creative series to hit mainstream entertainment since Lost premiered all the way back in 2004. Using some comic book deep cuts and opening the door for the newly acquired X-Men and Fantastic Four to finally join the MCU, Schaeffer hints at a bright future for the franchise.

It’s nearly impossible to say anything concrete about the show. At times, it’s brilliantly innovative and at others, just disappointing. The first four episodes could have been condensed into two as the first and second were basically bottle episodes. Some subplots seem to race towards the finish while others are forgotten about entirely. Several of the show’s most important characters feel shoehorned into the world and the titular Vision isn’t even really a primary actor. Because there are so many conflicts and characters squeezed into nine episodes, only Wanda Maximoff herself feels like a complete product. The series is a lot of fun, but the writers clearly had so much on their plate that the plot sometimes fell to the wayside.

However, this is not to say that WandaVision is some pitiable piece of entertainment; it’s quite the opposite. First and foremost, it’s self-aware. It knows it’s weird and leans into it, poking fun at past casting changes, its own corny dialogue and even the sitcom “setting” of each episode. Juxtaposed with traditional action movie visuals and characters, the goofy and serious aesthetics are more vivid together than they would be alone. 

The acting has to be the highlight of the series, though. Paul Bettany finally flushes out the Vision, Randall Park as Jimmy Woo and Kat Dennings as Darcy Lewis are absolutely hilarious and Elizabeth Olson steals the show with her stellar comedic and dramatic performances. Finally, everything builds up to a finale so good that it justifies watching the first eight episodes just to see it.

 Beyond anything specific, however, WandaVision is just fun — and like the main character, there’s a magic to it. From I Love Lucy to The Brady Bunch to Malcolm in the Middle and The Office, it effortlessly takes viewers from one nostalgic aesthetic to another. There is a little bit of fan service for everyone, whether it be Paul Bettany impersonating Dick York from Bewitched or a recreation of the asides from Modern Family. As the familiar gags and references from America’s most iconic pieces of television  lull watchers in and put a smile on their faces, the show does what any Marvel property must and ties back into the MCU. 

While WandaVision has a number of faults, some glaring, it succeeds where the best of its MCU counterparts do — by letting us lose ourselves in childhood giddiness. I was so enamored with each new scene that any previous faults began to fade. When one thinks back on each episode, they won’t feel like masterpieces, but they’re a delightful way to kill an hour. The show didn’t feel like a final draft, yet I still walked away from the season finale last Thursday wanting more; I didn’t realize how much I’ve been wanting something to shake up the traditional TV formula until now. 



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